"I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them."

"I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them."
- Andy Bernard, played by Ed Helms, in The Office



This past summer, I confronted the swift passage of time in two distinct locations: the pool and the library.  When my girls (now ages 13, 10, and 8) went swimming, I took a look -- a good look -- at the parents who waded with their toddlers in the shallow kiddie splash zone.  I don't recall all specifics from those summers of yesteryear with my own kids, but I do recall leaving the pool exhausted.  The required level of supervision was intense.

At the library children's section, I had a similar experience when I regarded the frenzy surrounding the train table.  I had spent hours at that train table when my girls were young.  It had been a lifeline, a much-needed change of scenery when the monotony within the walls of my house felt oppressive.  Two mothers, one correcting and one comforting, rushed to intervene when one toddler smacked another on the head with a wooden train.  Other parents lugged diaper bags and sippy cups like they were sherpas, weaving their strollers through the narrow racks.

Now, when we go to the library, my girls select a few YA titles and curl up in a bean bag chair to quietly read, and when we go to the pool I spray them with sunscreen, send them on their way, and then sit down on a lounge chair with my own book.

Parenting is so different!  It's much less physical and hawk-eyed in its supervision.  It's much more conversational and intentional in its discussions.

It's still great.  It's still sometimes exhausting.  And it's flying by.

I like to think that my kids are still young.  And they are.  Sort of.  But they're also kind of not.

Even more, I like to think that I'm still young.  And I am.  Sort of.  But I'm also kind of not.  I mean, I'm 40, so theoretically I'm old enough for the college students I teach to be my children.  Also, my ophthalmologist told me that I'm headed toward transitional lenses in the near future.  And I came quite close to buying a pair of sensible loafers the other week, so there's that.

All of this -- from the distinct differences between little kids at the pool and library and my own, to the threat of transitional lenses -- tells me one thing: I'm reaching the "decidedly middle aged" demographic.

I'm cool with this.  There's good in every stage of life, and for the most part I've enjoyed it all.  (With the exception of middle school.  Middle school is just one extended awkward moment.)

Our youth pastor shared a message this summer, urging us to make the most of our time.  He reminded us that life is like a mist that appears for a little while and vanishes (James 4:14), or like a breath and fleeting shadow (Psalm 144:4).  A mist.  A breath.  A fleeting shadow.  Regardless of the metaphor, the sentiment resounds.  These lives of ours?  They move quickly.  I see this now.  I see it at the library, at the pool, and in the mirror.

So I'm going to take a note from The Office.  I'm not going to miss acknowledging the "good old days" when I'm actually living them.  And I'm going to take a note from Psalms.  I'm going to accept that my days are like a mist and live them intentionally. 

One day, years from now, if I stumble upon this blog post while wearing my transitional lenses and sensible loafers, I'll smile and nod and my past self's wisdom.  "Yes," I imagine my future self saying, "Those were good days then.  It was good to enjoy them.  Forty!  You were still a puppy.  But these are good days, too. Very good days."

Because, past, present, or future, God's in these days.  All of them.

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